This is the fifth time in as many years that Apple fans are lining up by the thousands to buy the new iPhone model, and it's mad as ever. With shrines to the late Steve Jobs still on display, Apple Stores from London to Sydney opened their doors to cheers on Friday as people who'd been waiting outside for hours, some of them days, rushed in to be the first to upgrade. Newspapers and tech blogs are liveblogging the event, as startups rush to turn the media attention into a marketing opportunity. These Apple product launches are always frenzied and much hyped about, but this year, some of the stories trickling in from iPhone lines around the world are just weird.
Steve Wozniak showed up first in line on his Segway in Silicon Valley. The Apple co-founder showed up on his gyroscopic scooter at the Apple Store in Los Gatos, California on Thursday. People joke about how Wozniak could certainly buy the product before it come out, but he seems to like the star power he garners with Apple fans. Mashable says that he's shown up to wait in line for new Apple products, and kills time "by chatting with other Apple fans and signing their iPhones."
People are trying (and failing) to sell their spots in New York. Fortune's Philip Elmer-Dewitt has been keeping track of the diehards at New York's flagship Fifth Avenue store and reports that the first couple in line has been there for 17 days now. Don't worry, they're sponsored by an iPhone reseller. However, the group of struggling actors behind them had planned on selling their spots, but an hour and a half before the store opened, they hadn't found any buys. Elmer-Dewitt says, "They were cagy about the price … but a friend suggested $50 would probably do the trick."
After waiting four months, the corporate-sponsored guy in London was not first. Rob Shoesmith started planning his iPhone waiting experience back in June. Struggling to catch a break in his marketing career, he offered companies the chance to sponsor his waiting in line--everything from the food he ate to the gear that protected him from the elements--outside of London's Covent Garden store. Dozens jumped at the offer. He blogged about the whole thing, turned himself into a walking billboard but when the Apple Store finally opened on Friday morning, some 42-year-old man managed to beat Shoesmith at being the first iPhone 4S buyer.
Weird or not, a ton of people are buying the new iPhone. Bloomberg reports that Apple "is poised to sell as many as 4 million units of its new iPhone 4S this weekend. "I'm a diehard Apple fan and I've been using Apple products since I was 12," one fan told the newswire. "This company has rocked American life."